The sports scene in Los Banos had its ups and downs in 2013, with everything from championships to unlikely heroes to off-field shenanigans.
Starting at the tail end of the winter season, the Pacheco boys basketball team notched its first two wins against Los Banos, while the Los Banos wrestling team sent brothers Jimmy and Tyler Felix to the state wrestling championships.
The most memorable moment of the spring came when unheralded Pacheco sophomore Jerry Salomon knocked a walk-off single to end a 10-9, extra-innings Pacheco victory over Los Banos. Salomon did not have a varsity hit prior to the game, but he finished the day 3-for-5 with a triple and 2 RBIs. The back-and-forth battle had five players with at least three hits – Salomon’s teammate Adam Lopez was 4-for-5, Los Banos’ Corbin Lilladehl, Delvonte Moore and Gabe Lopez each finished with 3 hits.
The Los Banos boys and girls swim teams each went undefeated in league duals, while the Los Banos softball and boys golf teams, along with the Pacheco boys track team, placed second in the league. Los Banos’ boys golf qualified for the Sac-Joaquin Section Division 4 tournament as a team.
The summer began with a perfect game by Little Leaguer Kody Cardoza, but it was the LB Little League 10-Year-Old All-Star Team that survived the latest in post-season play. The 10s and the juniors (13-14-year-olds) won the District 73 tournament, and the 10s went on to win the Section 6 tournament in the most exciting fashion possible – they lost the first game, then faced four straight elimination games, winning them all.
Los Banos dropped its first game of the state tournament 5-3, but bounced back to beat Chico Eastside 8-4 in an elimination game, giving the boys hope that they might put together another improbable run. But Los Gatos eliminated LBLL from the tournament with an 11-4 win.
“Ten-year-olds lose focus pretty quick, and these kids never lost focus. We played 12 or 13 games all summer, and win or lose, they kept their focus — every inning, every pitch,” 10-year-olds coach Mike Wilson said after Los Banos was eliminated. “It was all them. I'm not going to take any credit.”
In the late summer, thoughts turned to football, and Pacheco took a big hit when it lost running back Kalama Kamoku for the season with a knee injury during a passing tournament. But running backs Frank Ginda (1,100 yards) and Moffat Teneng (600 yards) shouldered the load behind a fearsome offensive line, and the Panthers finished 7-4 with a first-round playoff loss. Los Banos faded down the stretch after starting 4-1, and finished 5-5 to miss the playoffs.
The budding rivalry between the two schools – which Pacheco won 24-7 for its first victory in the series – saw its share of pre- and post-game shenanigans, but community members came together to help clean things up.
Los Banos High’s girls tennis team completed an undefeated run through the Western Athletic Conference, stretching its league winning streak to 48 matches. The Los Banos girls volleyball team went undefeated in league as well, as did both of Los Banos’ water polo teams, with the boys earning the first playoff berth in the program’s history.
“A lot of emotions going through – I mean, the ups and downs,” Los Banos coach Darryl Barger said after the Tigers defeated Pacheco in the final game of the regular season. “This has been eight seasons without seeing a winning record. But to go undefeated in league, and to have a great group of guys ... and a great group of JV players coming up that are going to carry on the tradition.”
Both schools’ girls golf teams struggled, but Los Banos junior Brianna Flores qualified for the section division 4 tournament.
At the lower levels of the sport, the Los Banos Tigers Youth Football program put two teams in the Tri-Valley League championships, with the senior squad completing an undefeated run (12-0) in a 40-6 victory over Kingsburg. The juniors fell to Kingsburg in the championship.